Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mountain Scene Birthday Cake with Homemade Whipped Cream Frosting

Of course, one of the centerpieces of any great birthday party is the dream cake desired by the birthday guest of honor.  And let me just say, my little girl dreams big - like "Cake Boss" big...  She is big on the Schleich fantasy horses and she and Grandma have been collecting them - they work great with the fairy gardens.  So she wanted the perfect mountain scene to display her favorites from the collection.
OK - I can do this right?  I did, after all, make an awesome (if I do say so myself) snowmobile mountain cake for my husband's 30th surprise birthday party.  No sweat.  I'll just break out my trusty buttercream recipe and make some small batches of it colored for grass and mountains and such.

So the weekend before the party we are at the store picking out what kind of cake she wants and she picks red velvet (our tastes have matured from funfetti I see...).  Then we launch into a discussion on the appropriate frosting.  I'm thinking the buttercream or a slightly adapted version with cream cheese in it will be just fine.  She wants whipped cream frosting...wait, what?  How on earth am I to build a mountain with a fine fluffy frosting liked whipped cream frosting?  But wait, she announces that my rough 3D sketch on the back of the grocery list of the cake in my head with the mountain and meadow and stream is not what she has envisioned.  After a 30 minute discussion and 2 more drawings on the back of the list and a couple of almost tears (mostly mine...) we come to the conclusion that we are indeed talking about the same cake...whew...(her wedding will be easier, right?)
Like any over-achieving mother, I must produce this perfect cake for my child or I will have failed as a mother...or so I have convinced myself.  So at about 10 p.m. on the eve of the birthday party, after a day of meetings at work that started out the worst of any day of the week...I baked the cake (because I cannot just give up and go to the grocery  bakery for a cake like a sane woman).
I took two boxes of red velvet cake mix and combined them and added the requisite water, oil and eggs according to the directions on the box.  Then I took a 13x9x1 cookie sheet, greased it well with shortening, and poured in enough cake batter to make it full about halfway to the top.  I baked this about 15 minutes until it was firm but still spongy and moist and just pulling away from the edges of the cookie sheet.

The rest of the batter was poured into a 13x9x2 well-greased glass baking dish.  This was baked about 25 minutes or until again firm but still moist and pulling away from the edges but not browning.  I covered each with a smooth, clean kitchen towel and let cool overnight.  I also took about 2 ounces of chocolate bark and melted it in the microwave in a small bowl in 1 minute intervals.  Then I took a plastic cutting board and dropped the chocolate in blobs of varying sizes to form rocks and log shapes.  I left these to harden overnight.
Up at the crack of dawn and barely able to prop my eyes open, I slugged down coffee as fast as I could between finishing birthday prepping and mixing up a giant batch of whipped cream frosting.  My husband woke up and asked what was up with the blobs of poop on the cutting board...

Whipped Cream Frosting:
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups heavy whipping cream, kept very cold
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar (*add an extra cup if tinting with food coloring)

This will be a very liquid mix to start.  Whip this together on high speed about 10 minutes until it holds its shape and is almost as stiff as butter.  You need to do this when your kitchen is cool or the cream will not whip and you'll just have a very sweet milkshake.  I left this batch white so build the mountains.  Later, I made a batch of green and used an extra cup of powdered sugar to help absorb the food coloring.  Add the food coloring at the beginning before you start whipping and it will help it incorporate better.  Otherwise it can become sort of separated from the rest of the frosting and will look grainy.  This is a very tasty frosting and not overly sweet.
I started to build my mountain using the cookie sheet cake as the base (leave it right on the cookie sheet - why ask for trouble, right?).  I cut pieces from my second cake (the 2 inch deep one) to form the mountains. I covered half the cake base with a layer of the frosting, then layered my cake chunks with frosting between the layers to form mountain peaks.  Then I poured a good amount of the frosting over the top of the peaks and carefully spread down the sides of the mountain.  I let it sort of blob and pile up as it went and I let the cake crumbs get mixed in a bit to add to the texture of the mountain.  Once I had the mountain side covered, I stuck it in the fridge to firm up while I mixed up a second batch of whipped cream frosting - this time tinted grassy green.  Half of the green frosting got smoothed over the meadow part of the cake and the other half got dumped on the leftovers of the 2 inch cake to be taken in to work for Monday morning snacking.
To make the river, I made a groove through the green frosting starting from the base of the mountain.  I made it wider toward the end of the cake so it looked like it was widening to a pond.  Then I took a whole tube of blue sparkle gel frosting and squeezed it out into the river.  I used a can of black spray cake tint to add some effect to the mountain.  My daughter asked why it was purple...and why it wasn't built to scale with the horses...(some days she is her father's daughter...)  Then I placed the chocolate logs and rocks around the mountain and sides of the river.  The whole cake went in the freezer until serving time when my daughter placed the horses and candles on the cake.  It will defrost very fast because the cake and frosting are so light.


Jessica said...

That is one cool cake! Your link got the most clicks last weekend at Sweet Saturday, and I'd like to invite you to guest hostess this time around. If you're interested, please email me at healthymommyhealthybaby@gmail.com :)


Unknown said...

I would love to! Email coming your way - thanks so much!